The culprit is caffeine! Whether you get it in your coffee, tea, soda, eat it in your chocolate and cocoa, or swallow pills, caffeine is affecting your health in dozens of dangerous ways.
Caffeine does not appear to cause cancer directly but increases the growth of tumors which are caused by other carcinogens. Heavy coffee drinking doubles the risk of bladder cancer, while tea drinking increases rectal cancer.
Caffeine causes increased gastric acid secretion which in turn aggravates peptic ulcers. Even decaffeinated coffee has been shown to stimulate stomach acid through the irritating effect of caffeole which contributes to taste and aroma in coffee.
While caffeine can delay the onset of sleep, it also interferes with rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the stage when dreams occur. In a recent study, women who routinely took caffeine-containing medications had more trouble falling asleep at night than those who had no caffeinated medications.
Caffeine affects the heart and blood vessels by elevating cholesterol and triglyceride levels. At Stanford University, researchers report that middle-aged men who drink three or more cups of coffee per day had elevated blood levels of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol).
A recent Norwegian study of 7,589 men and 8,585 women found that the more coffee they consumed, the higher was their homocysteine level. Those with elevated homocysteine levels have a greater risk of coronary artery disease.
What about decaffeinated coffee? Two studies have shown that LDL cholesterol increases when coffee drinkers switched to decaffeinated coffee. Besides elevating blood fats, coffee can cause heart palpitations and increase the rate of irregular heartbeat. Mild hypertensives should also restrict their caffeine intake.
Among the most detrimental effects of caffeine on the body is drug dependency. The addiction to caffeine has given rise to a new disease called caffeinism. Increased blood levels of caffeine may cause a craving for nicotine; so anyone wishing to quit smoking must stop drinking caffeinated beverages.
How can you know if you are addicted to caffeine? Individuals who drink 5–6 cups of coffee or caffeinated beverages have shown behavioral and psychophysiological symptoms to caffeine. The symptoms of caffeinism are: restlessness, anxiety, irritability, muscle tremors, agitation, jitters, insomnia, lightheadedness, heart palpitations, diarrhea, increased urination, and headaches.
Children and Adolescents
According to pediatricians, children and adolescents are some of the most targeted groups for caffeine addiction. On a body-weight basis, 1–5 year-olds are the highest consumers of caffeine. A child who drinks one can of soda per day is getting the equivalent of four cups of coffee for an adult. One-third of all the children who drink high levels of caffeinated beverages shows hyperactive behavior, which is typical of caffeinism. No wonder pediatricians are concerned about the growing number of soda-guzzling youngsters and adolescents who come in with irritability, headache, and nervousness.
10 Ways to Overcome the Caffeine Habit
Caffeine is a health and spiritual hazard that may cost you your eternal life. One study showed that increasing consumption of caffeine causes a corresponding decrease in religious involvement as measured by church attendance. For the optimal functioning of the brain, heart, and body, as well as for the abundant health of your family, complete abstinence from caffeine-loaded beverages is the prudent choice. So, give caffeine a “quitting notice”! The methods below will help you to quit for good.
1 Have a dry brush massage.
When you feel drowsy, have a dry brush massage before you shower. Brush the skin with short or long, low strokes toward the heart. Skin brushing acts as a natural stimulant.
2 Take a hot/cold shower.
When you feel sluggish and need a mental pickup, take a hot shower for a minute and follow it by a cold shower. Repeat this up to seven times each. This wet exercise will stimulate your circulation and energize your mental attitude.
3 Get outdoor exercise.
If you are unable to take a shower, take a brisk 15-minute walk, job, or bike ride, and you will have the same beneficial stimulus to brain, blood, and muscles.
4 Watch your diet.
Stay away from sugar and other concentrated sweets. Avoid overeating.
5 Have water or herbal tea on hand.
Keep a glass of cool water, catnip, or other herbal tea on hand to replace the habit of sipping down caffeinated beverages.
6 Take a hot foot bath.
Headache is a serious withdrawal symptom, which can be alleviated by a simple 20–45-minute hot foot bath. Finish the hot foot bath by throwing a bucket with ice and water over your feet.
7 Take a little sip.
When symptoms [headache, dizziness, and backache] begin to appear, take a tablespoon of caffeine beverage and then wait 30 minutes. If symptoms are still there, take another tablespoon. These symptoms will disappear in a few days, and you need to stop the sips of caffeine.
8 Lubricate your body.
Drink 8–10 cups of water daily and eat lots of raw fruits and vegetables.
9 Drink the Water of Life.
Take a daily drink of the water of life which your Maker offers, and you will never thirst for the artificial drinks like coffee, tea, or soda. “But whosoever drinketh of the water the I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:14.
10 Keep yourself busy.
Do not allow leisure time to accumulate as idleness produces self-indulgence.
An Alternative Stimulant
We live in a “click-of-the-button” society. People want instant answers to their physical, emotional, and social problems. If they are tired, they want some magical concoctions to pep them up; if they are emotionally down, they want something to instantly lift their spirits. So, thousands turn to caffeine, alcohol, or illegal drugs to get an instant “high.” We must understand, however, that for every mountain peak there is a corresponding valley. The more frequently we depend on artificial stimulants, the greater will be the immediate “high,” but the deeper and more drastic the “low.” The lows create an appetite for bigger and “better” highs, which never get satisfied and so addiction develops.
Our Creator knew that as frail mortals we would have our low and high days. This is why He says, “Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, . . . Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain. For the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” Isaiah 40:1–5. God sent His Son to lift us out of the valleys and straighten the rough places of our experience. Instead of leaning on caffeine-loaded beverages to pep your spirits up, lift you out of depression, or energize your mind, ask Him to be your Stimulator of positive thoughts and energized living. A friendship with Jesus Christ will give you thousands of positive mental, physical, and spiritual benefits. What’s best, there are no side effects when you get “stimulated” by the Creator of the Universe.
Reprinted from Danger is Brewing in the Cup, Northwestern Publishing Association, Sacramento, California.